Month: June 2016

498. Sunday 26th June 2016. A funeral, a look around Port Macquarie and a visit to Murwillumbah…

Monday 20th June.

Despite the overcast, rain and blustering, cold westerly wind I drove from Port Macquarie to Newcastle Crematorium at Beresfield. I had allowed three hours for the journey and even stopping for fuel and a coffee break I was still 90 minutes early.

As people arrived it was clear the small chapel was not going to hold all the mourners. Apart from family, relatives and friends, Bobby had a wide circle of people who respected him. After the chapel was filled it was standing room only – outside in the cold. Bobby’s daughter Libby, ably assisted by her brother Grant, gave a moving eulogy. Bobby was a member of the National Rifle Association of Australia and at one stage was coach of the junior team which toured overseas. Mourners from the club and other business customers from Coonabarabran joined family and friend s to pay their respects.

Libby commented that sometimes her father was a Grumpy Old Man but we loved him. Judging by the tears, the 12 grandchildren also loved him.

Goodbye Bobby.

After refreshments at Beresfield Bowling Club I drove back to Port Macquarie arriving well after dark. Within minutes I laid down and fell asleep for a couple of hours. It was a long day, including 6 hours of driving and an emotional event.

Tuesday 21st June.

I decided to stay another day so I could be refreshed for the drive back to the Gold Coast. I drove around looking at some of the many beaches around Port Macquarie.

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Town Beach

Town Beach is adjacent to the breakwater and marina wall. This wall is different to most I have seen elsewhere, almost every stone face is painted with a memorial or endless love sonnet or even just a memento of a visit.

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These are the painted rocks along the breakwater walkway.
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This man is painting his own message on one of the breakwater rocks.

There is a great deal of beach erosion, a legacy of the violent storm experienced all along the Eastern Seaboard of Australia a few weeks ago.

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Beach erosion along Town Beach from recent storms

It was here I watched the cargo ship, “ISLAND TRADER” enter the narrow seawall opening into the Hastings River and marina and canal residential community. The ship carries supplies to and from Lord Howe Island almost 600 Klms offshore. LHI is part of NSW and therefore part of Australia. Port Macquarie is the closest NSW port to LHI.

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Island Trader returning from Lord Howe Island.

Shelley Beach has a memorial to Harry Thompson who arrived with his family in a caravan in 1960.

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Shelley Beach
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Harry Thompson is silent sentinel over his Shelley Beach. Note the cleared understory of the beachside vegetation.
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Picnic shelter carved to represent the interior of Harry Thompsons caravan where he and his wife and son lived for 40 years.

Perhaps the best explanation of the story is from this Flikr Page.

 “In 1960 Harry and Jean Thompson moved from Warren in western NSW after winning the lottery and buying a caravan. Being from the bush, with no experience of the beach Harry got bogged in the sand at Shelly Beach at Port Macquarie on the NSW mid North Coast.

The Thompsons decided there and then that they had found their spiritual home and thereafter made their caravan their permanent home at beautiful Shelly Beach,

The Thompsons were long time unofficial caretakers of this idyllic Port Macquarie beach and in the process became legendary as they successfully garnered the support of Port Macquarie residents in their effort to resist many vigorous attempts by the local Port Macquarie – Hasting Shire Council to evict them from their self proclaimed beach side home.

Harry Thompson, died on 31st January 2000 at age 83 and the community began fund raising for a memorial, now evident at the northern end of Shelly Beach in the form of a wooden sculpture of Harry and interestingly, his caravan. The area has become known as ‘Harry’s Corner’ and a walking trail with 254 steps, all laboriously built by Harry, leads to a nearby lookout now known as ‘Harry’s Lookout’

Such was the fondness with which Harry was held he was elected citizen of the year in 1983 and in 1999 was proclaimed ‘Mayor of Shelly Beach’


In 2009 an unbelievable mindless act of vandalism saw the sculpture of Harry decapitated. Fortunately local builder and friend of Harry, Ted Sala, came to the rescue and repairs were made and Harry once again stands a silent sentinel watching over his beloved Shelly Beach.”


I also visited secluded Miners Beach now an unofficial nudist beach, and given the weather today very few people were seen, all dressed of course.

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Miners Beach. Note the Banksia.
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Little Miners Beach.

Most of the beaches on the south side of Port Macquarie are at the base of steep cliffs much dressed in native vegetation including the wonderful Banksia’s.

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Much of the cliffside around the Port Macquarie beaches have all native vegetation. Currently Hastings Council are removing non native species. These beautiful banksia frame the scenery.

A walk has been established from Town Beach all the way through the beaches as far as the Tacking Point Lighthouse.

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Tacking Point Lighthouse.

Nobby’s Beach is on this walk but does have a one way access road as well.

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Nobby’s Beach

At Flynns Beach

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Flynns Beach notice to weed brought in by recent storms.

I watched boogie board riders in shallow water in front of the cliff face.

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It was cold on the beach today but these wetsuit clad boogie board riders were enjoying themselves.
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This rider needs to be careful he does not bite off his tongue.
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These riders were following the break of the waves…towards the rock!

At the end of my journey was Tacking Point Lighthouse. The  lighthouse was built high on a rocky headland in 1879 and is listed on the National Trust Heritage Register. The light house was built due to the large number of shipwrecks in the area. There were twenty shipwrecks between 1823 and 1878. The lighthouse was only 8 metres tall due to the height of the headland itself. It is similar in construction height to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse which also sits on a high headland at Seal Rocks South of Forster.

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Lighthouse Beach looking south.

Late in the day I went to Lake Cathie (Locals pronounce it Lake Cat Eye which is probably a derivation of the original, Lake Cat Hie. It depends on which local you speak to and how long they have been a local). Calling it Lake Cathie alerts locals that you are an uninformed visitor.

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The calm reflective beauty of Lake Cathie where is runs into the ocean.
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Lake Cathies looking towards the bridge.

Wednesday 22nd June.

Another long day of driving home. Although there were lots of stop/slow roadworks I still managed the trip in 7.5 hours. Once home I fell asleep and woke in time for a light dinner and watch round 2 of the 3 round State of Origin series. Queensland won round one and only needed to win on their home ground to win the series for 2016. Despite strong defence by NSW and some good tries to both sides, Queensland won 26 to 16 and making them series winners ten years of the last eleven. The third round in NSW in three weeks was a sellout before tonight and the game will be just as tough despite it being a “dead rubber”.

Saturday 25th June

Astute and regular readers will recall I broke my wrist in an ummm, bicycle accident on 2nd August 2015. I required wrist surgery to install a T piece stainless steel plate. For 10 months I have been doing regular physiotherapy and taking strong nerve pain medication. I was on 300 Mg of Lyrica twice a day (the maximum advised does is 600Mg per day) and another pain medication, 10 Mg of Endep at bedtime. Although the medical profession say the medication is not addictive it is not something which you can just stop taking as there will be withdrawal symptons. One of the many side effects is weight gain. In my case about 10 Kg. I am pleased to report that I have stopped physiotherapy and now using the hand in regular daytime functional uses rather than the regime of particular exercises to regain use of the hand. What I am most pleased about is I started a slow withdrawal of the medication and I have not had any medication for two days. No constant pain and I am sleeping.


However, although the last two nights sleep have been a little troubled and have woken a few times during the night.

Silly repetitive dreams.


I mention these two drugs in case readers ever find themselves on Lyrica or Endep and need to know the slow process of coming off the drug.

Sunday 26th June

Yesterday evening and again this morning it was quite cold with overnight temps down around 10 degrees. Yeah Yeah I know. It only begins to get cold at minus 10. Remember we live on the Gold Coast and spent the last 30 years living in the tropics. Anything less than 23 degrees is cold!

Now for something totally different.

I drove to Murwillumbah about 70 Klms from home. The town is just over the border in NSW and is situated on the mid reaches of the Tweed River

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Tweed River looking east.
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Delightful timber cabin cruiser on the Tweed River.
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Another lovely old boat on the Tweed.

in what is surprisingly called the Tweed Valley. Once upon a time the original Pacific highway ran through here, following the Tweed River into Tweed Heads and on into Coolangatta Queensland. The town is not large in terms of size or population but it does have an impressive art gallery called, Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.

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Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.

Apart from the impressive paintings and sculptures it also includes a re-production of Margaret Olley’s home in Paddington, Sydney. The rooms have been re-created using photos and includes all the bric a brac, furniture, clothes, magazines, books, painting materials, weird statuatry  and assorted junk which was in the house at the time of her death. It also includes the stove top, oven and the kitchen sink. The windows also include the original tissue thin ragged curtains on the original house. The gallery sits on a hill overlooking the lush pastures of the Tweed

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Tweed River and valley.

while in the distance is the looming presence of Mt Warning (named by Captain Cook when he sailed along the coast in 1770) and other peaks which were formed by a massive volcano twenty million years ago. The other peaks are also

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Mt Warning
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Mt Warning and Tweed Valley.

the remains of the volcanic caldera. There is much to see in the Tweed Valley and surrounding peaks, National Parks and caldera farmlands.


I will save a return visit for when Donnis is home.

497. Sunday 19th June 2016.A quiet week with a long days drive into the night…

No photographs this week.

Monday 13th June

My cousin Bobby passed away on Saturday night. He had Pancreatic cancer. In this case, cancer is not a word, it is a sentence. I last spoke with Bobby on 13th April when he told me he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. He knew the reality of having only a limited time available to him. He decided not to have any form of treatment and to live and enjoy what time remains for him.

Two months is all that he had.


Vale Bobby.

Tuesday 14th June

I am still in pain from the Nasopalatine Duct Cyst surgery last Tuesday. The dissolvable sutures are still in place and the palate is badly swollen and it is quite painful to eat anything other than soft foods. Even chewing anything puts pressure on the teeth. I saw the surgeon today as I will be driving to Sydney for Bobby’s funeral and wanted to be sure there are no complications or infections before I leave. He gave me the thumbs up that all is progressing as it should, no infection and it could take three weeks for the swelling to disappear and for the sutures to dissolve.


Donnis is in Canada and visiting her mother (in a Calgary nursing home) almost daily. It is officially summer in Canada but some nights the temps get down to 5 degrees Celsius. Hmmm! Here it is officially winter and we think an overnight low of 14 degrees Celsius is frigid!

Wednesday 15th June

Bobby’s funeral will be on Monday 20th June in Newcastle NSW. I have planned to drive as far as Port Macquarie on Sunday then drive the remaining 3 hours to Newcastle on Monday morning. Good friends Tony and Dawn will meet me halfway so we can exchange keys. I will stay at their house and they will stay in ours and meet their son who is coming to the Gold Coast on Monday.

Sunday 19th June

Google maps declare the trip from my home to the home of Tony and Dawn in Port Macquarie is 499 Klms and would take 6 hours and 5 minutes. That calculation is obviously made using a constant average speed (75Klms per hour) and makes no allowance for road works (even on Sundays when no works are being carried out, lower speed limits still apply) fuel stops and meal breaks. In reality it took 7 hours 15 minutes. New South Wales Police cars were everywhere on the highway. Also their mobile speed cameras and fixed speed cameras are another encouragement to drive within the speed limit. Thank goodness for Cruise Control. Even so I saw many nut cases on the road, many with P Plates (maximum speed limits apply but exceeding any speed limit has severe penalties – if caught), passing in dangerous places and or vastly exceeding the speed limit. No wonder there are so many accidents on the road.

I arrived feeling very tired. Probably what helped to keep me awake and focussed on driving was the constant pain from the oral surgery last week.

Early to bed as I have another long day on the road tomorrow.

496. Sunday 12th June 2016. Back on the bike and big ships compared…

Saturday 11th June

I reached a new milestone today. Yesterday I started dusting, cleaning, adjusting and pumping up the tyres on my Powa Bike 24. The very same bike on which I had my accident on 2nd August 2015 and broke my wrist. Today I finished getting the bike ready for a ride. Not everything is completed, some small scrape damage which cannot be fixed and the speedo needs a new battery but it was enough to go for a ride. I parked it at the bottom of our driveway while I put on shoes, riding gloves and helmet. All the time the bike was sneering at me, daring me to get on and go for a ride. I sneered right back and carefully threw my right leg over the centre bar and got ready to ride.

My PowaBike ready for a ride.
My PowaBike ready for a ride.


All ready.

Correct gear selected and electric motor in the OFF position. Then I was away and feeling maybe a little too confident but nonetheless had to get riding again before I changed my mind. For a start I rode each of the 6 streets in our village – twice. Apart from a little saddle soreness and the broken wrist more than a little sore, I felt good and ready to ride again tomorrow. As I have slowly come off my pain meds so will I slowly build up my riding distances.

Sunday 12th June

Rode the Powa Bike again this morning.

The baby of the Australian Navy Fleet, HMAS Adelaide, Aircraft Carrier, was in Brisbane for three days. It was not open to the public but viewing could be made from Luggage Point, an area on the Brisbane River saltbush flood plains behind the International Airport.

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Mudflats at rivers edge beyond that is a sandy base covered in saltbush and thick couch grass.

I decided to drive to Brisbane and see this billion dollar ship for myself. I was somewhat disappointed as I compared it to a previous visit to see the USS George Washington in July 2013. Our ship was designed and built as an aircraft carrier but sadly, the budget did not extend to buying suitable planes. It will be used as a Landing Helicopter Dock and based in Sydney. It was launched in December 2015  and is carrying out duties along various Australian ports.

As I moved away from the riverside viewing area to the swampy area the ship seemed to grow in size.
As I moved away from the riverside viewing area to the swampy area the ship seemed to grow in size.
The closer to the ship the smaller it seemed.
The closer to the ship the smaller it seemed.
The ship was specifically designed to give more lift to planes on take-off. Unfortunately there are no planes.
The ship was specifically designed to give more lift to planes on take-off. Unfortunately there are no planes.

I could not help making comparisons with the US ship. While the US ship was a hive of activity the Australian ship was almost ghost town like.

The USS George Washington. Look at the rust. Hmmm! I guess the painters must be painting the other side.
The USS George Washington. Look at the rust. Hmmm! I guess the painters must be painting the other side.

HMAS ADELAIDE                                                                              USS GEORGE WASHINGTON

Length                  231metres                                                          333metres

Width                    32metres                                                             77metres

Depth                   7.08metres                                                         11.3metres

Tonnage              27,500 tonnes                                                    104,000 tonnes

Propulsion          Diesel and Gas                                                  Nuclear Reactor

Crew                     1,046                                                                     6,102


Although our ship is probably the biggest in the Australian fleet it is almost half the US ship which is the size of a large town. On reflection I also compared it to the Norwegian Pearl a middle size cruise liner we which we travelled on to Alaska last year.

The passenger ship, Norwegian Pearl in Alaska.
The passenger ship, Norwegian Pearl in Alaska.

Length                  294metres

Width                    32metres

Tonnage              93tonnes

Propulsion          Diesel and Electric

Crew                     1,093 + Guests 2,394 = 3,487

So this cruise liner which is similar in size to the HMAS ADELAIDE carries three times the personnel. It is also a floating small town and much busier.

There are a number of businesses which specialise in buying moving and selling old houses. Many of these houses are stored on land which is probably useless for anything else. The blocks of land are slightly raised above the surrounding salt marsh flood plains. The land is further surrounded by a cyclone wire fence and moat like mosquito breeding swamps. I guess this helps to dissuade any person foolhardy enough and equipped with a suitable crane and truck, from stealing an old house.

Take a look at what is on offer.

Old houses stored in dry patches in the swamp.
Old houses stored in dry patches in the swamp.

495. Sunday 5th June 2016. A stay at home week interrupted by a huge low pressure storm front…

Wednesday 1st June

Good Golly Miss Molly. It’s the first day of June already. Officially it is the first day of WINTER!

This is the day the TV commentators have been haranguing (there’s another first time word for your wall collection Geoff) us about for the last 6 weeks.


But before the game began…

Frank has been quietly harassed by several village residents, INCLUDING DONNIS, that I should start playing bowls. In fact I did play a game last week with a borrowed set of bowls. On Tuesday Jim knocked on my door and presented me with a case with four used but matching, bowls. Is that a hint, Jim?

Today I fronted up for a game, we each drew a number out of a large jam can to determine teams. Learning to bowl with a ball not shaped like a ball but has a slightly wobbly round shape is not easy. Add to this, the bowl is weighted on one side (called a bias) so it travels in an arc. Place the weighted side on the wrong side and the bowl takes off across the bowling green knocking into bowlers on the adjoining green. Apart from the bias bowl there are many rules, rules of etiquette, personal ways of doing things and local etiquette. All this is to be learned in one afternoon session. My partner, Bill and I lost by a very sizeable margin. Thanks for the game. I might join in on another day.

For dinner I made a simple pizza so I could sit down, alone, to watch Game 1 of a three game series, of the State of Origin played at NSW premier sportsfield, ANZ Stadium. Although Queensland had won 9 of the last 10 series encounters, somehow NSW were placed as favourites and all the jokes on Facebook were basically one sided, NSW against Queensland.

By half time Queensland were leading 6 to 4. It was a dour game of physical grinding backwards and forwards with the ball. Near full time both teams looked physically spent. At one stage it looked as though NSW had scored a try. The video referee looked at all camera angles at least 27 times before deciding it was a NO TRY. As the final hooter hooted and the referee whistled with his pea whistle and called full time, the score was unchanged. Queensland won by a bare margin, 6 to 4.

So, I guess, from tomorrow onwards the Facebook jokes will be at the expense of NSW.

Friday 3rd June

The Weather Bureau has issue a severe weather alert for the entire east coast of Australia. A low front is expected to roll in from the north bringing gale force north easterly winds and heavy rain up to 300mm. For the Gold Coast the prediction was it would begin today and gradually increase in intensity as it moves south. Seas were expected to be whipped into a frenzy and all beaches will be closed. Local flooding and wind damage is to be expected. Today it rained and the wind was strong. The rain got heavier, on and off as the day continued.

Our friend Glenda invited me to dinner at Worongary. After dinner we watched a movie – Money Monster – and I drove home. The rain was coming in squalls but thankfully there was not much traffic even on the M1. Closer to home there was water across the road in a few places, one of which caused the i30 to aquaplane but that scary moment passed and I was soon home vowing not to go out the next day…for anything.

Saturday 4th June.

The rain increased overnight as did the wind and true to my word I did not leave the house. News reports tonight indicated rain, in places on the Gold Coast was well in excess of 200mm. Wave heights were generally around 3-4 metres with some being recorded at 10metres.

The forecast for tomorrow is the wind and the rain will ease and stop altogether and will be replaced by sunshine and a strong westerly wind. The westerly will tend to hold up the waves and gradually flatten them.

Sunday 5th June

Woke to brilliant sunshine and the westerly kicked in about mid-morning. Official rainfall at Coolangatta Airport was 300mm while at Springbrook in the mountains, 350mm fell since Friday. The storm front continues its slow way south and already places Like Lismore in northern NSW has flooding and houses evacuated. Further south Wollongong also experienced local flooding. It was time to visit the Gold Coast Seaway and The Spit to see the big swells.

These giant immenseky strong waves kept rolling in and steepened by the westerly wind were quite spectacular.
These giant immensely strong waves kept rolling in and steepened by the westerly wind were quite spectacular.
The Police spent a lot of time in the Seaway. Nobody apart from a couple of jetski riders were silly enough to venture out.
The Police spent a lot of time in the Seaway. Nobody apart from a couple of jetski riders were silly enough to venture out.

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The waves break against the norther breakwall arm and lightstation.
The waves break against the norther breakwall arm and lightstation.
Hmmm! Was something happening? The helicopter hovered in one spot for a long time. The jetski was heading out to that same location.
Hmmm! Was something happening? The helicopter hovered in one spot for a long time. The jetski was heading out to that same location.
Life still goes on. The water activities which were capable of operating, did so.
Life still goes on. The water activities which were capable of operating, did so.

Hmmm! It seems that thousands of other people had the same idea. Although the danger on the spit was minimal people brought new born babies, their dogs, children in prams and people in wheelchairs.  The pathway to the lighthouse at the end of The Spit had a constant stream of people many with big professional cameras to record the event.

The crowds flocked to this vantage point on the southern breakwall arm.
The crowds flocked to this vantage point on the southern breakwall arm.

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Those crowds at the front got a good soaking.
Those crowds at the front got a good soaking.

Probably the worst damage on the coast is beach erosion and a seafood restaurant beside Burleigh Beach had plate glass windows smashed in by waves and water ran through the building. Some houses with beachfront lost a little more of their yards. What the sea giveth the sea taketh away!

Surfers Paradise seen through a haze of salt spray and huge waves.
Surfers Paradise seen through a haze of salt spray and huge waves.

The day remained sunny but the westerly wind gained in intensity and became quite cold in the afternoon.